The now familiar “You have two cows“ jokes were originally a parody of the typical educational examples used in introductory-level economics course material.
A typical example is: “You have two cows; you want chickens; you set out to find another farmer who has chickens and wants a cow”.
The above example was used to show the limitations of the barter system, leading to the eventual introduction of currency and money. Some later examples of the jocular parody include…
- SOCIALISM: You have 2 cows. – You give one to your neighbour
- COMMUNISM: You have 2 cows. – The State takes both and gives you some milk
- NAZISM: You have 2 cows. The State takes both and shoots you.
- BUREAUCRACY: You have 2 cows. The State takes both, shoots one, milks the other, and then throws the milk away.
- CAPITALISM: You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows. You sell them and retire on the income.
- RBS (VENTURE CAPITALISM): You have two cows. You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows. The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island Company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company. The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more. You sell one cow to buy a new president of the United States, leaving you with nine cows. No balance sheet provided with the release. The public then buys your bull.
- SURREALISM: You have two giraffes. The government requires you to take harmonica lessons.
- AMERICAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows. Later, you hire a consultant to analyse why the cow has dropped dead.
- GREEK CORPORATION: You have two cows. You borrow lots of euros to build barns, milking sheds, hay stores, feed sheds, dairies, cold stores, abattoir, cheese unit and packing sheds. You still only have two cows.
- FRENCH CORPORATION: You have two cows. You go on strike, organise a riot, and block the roads, because you want three cows.
- JAPANESE CORPORATION: You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. You then create a clever cow cartoon image called a Cowkimona and market it worldwide.
- ITALIAN CORPORATION: You have two cows, but you don’t know where they are. You decide to have lunch.
- SWISS CORPORATION: You have 5000 cows. None of them belong to you. You charge the owners for storing them.
- CHINESE CORPORATION: You have two cows. You have 300 people milking them. You claim that you have full employment, and high bovine productivity. You arrest the newsman who reported the real situation.
- INDIAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You worship them.
- IRAQI CORPORATION: Everyone thinks you have lots of cows. You tell them that you have none. No-one believes you, so they bomb the sh1t out of you and invade your country. You still have no cows, but at least you are now a Democracy.
- BRITISH CORPORATION: You have two cows. Both are mad and, despite reading the label carefully, you find one of your cows is actually a horse.
- WELSH CORPORATION: You have two cows. The one on the left looks very attractive but more difficult to reach than your two sheep.
- SCOTS CORPORATION: You have two cows. It’s open to debate as to whether or not you own your cows, or they’re just a constituent part of the greater British herd.
- NORTHERN IRISH CORPORATION: You have two cows. After hundreds of years you still can’t decide if they are Nationalist or Republican cows… Oh Feck!
- AUSTRALIAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. Business seems pretty good. You close the office and go for lunch and a few beers to celebrate!
I wonder how the ‘two cows’ illustration should be applied to the British Public Sector and in particular, the management of our Policing and other emergency services? Any ideas?
I’m often branded as a Time Waster by my family and friends. I like to think they look upon the trait as an endearing factor but who knows? Whatever the real root of the descriptive, it was one that was reinforced this Christmas with a gift from a friend. This ‘basic guide to basically doing nothing’ suggested I would be provided with the opportunity to ‘bone up on being bone idle’…
Being well versed at taking procrastination to new levels, this hopefully tongue-in-cheek gift, invoked a wry smile when I received it. But as the well-known proverb actually points out, in reality time and tide wait for no man, which is probably one of the main reason why so many of us are so preoccupied with the management of our time, especially in business circles.
Time management: the act or process of planning and exercising conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency or productivity. Time management may be aided by a range of skills, tools, and techniques used to manage time when accomplishing specific tasks, projects and goals complying with a due date…(wikipedia.org)
Whilst those who observe society can see, much of mankind is generically obsessed with time these days, our business anylysts are continually crying out; Time IS Money! That may be so but isn’t the obsession many of us possess actually with the money and not the time per se? Especially for those who live in environments governed by profit and loss.
I’ve never had any inclination or desire to spend hours and hours with my head buried in self-help books myself, certainlynot ones which tell me how to manage my time. That said, my working life is and always has been governed by time. But it’s all about awareness, priorities and importance as opposed to obsession.
I’ve always been a good time-keeper, I’m never late for work or appointments and I usually complete all work tasks correctly and in a timely fashion. I’ve always been organised with important information but here’s the rub, what others find important may well be irrelevant to me. I don’t believe I need ’self-help’ however; judging by the sheer number of such publications, I can only assume that many people actually do?
People like David Allen, ‘the guru of personal productivity’ (according to the Fast Company Magazine), is one of those who has made a very succesful (and profitable) business out of telling other people how to manage their time.
The author of bestsellers like Getting Things Done et al, inspires us all to work better, not harder. Now that is a sensible idea and also, one of those principles which I’ve actually spent a lifetime perfecting.
I do believe in getting a job done, whatever that job may be but why work at it harder than I need to? I always aim to do any job to the best of my ability, what I don’t like doing is working any harder than is absolutely necessary to complete the task, if at all possible. Failure is often due to some blithering idiot or lazy arse not fulfilling their role in the task at hand. You then end up working harder to mitigate against or disguise their failings, especially if those failures are likely to have a negative impact upon how you are valued or perceived by an employer for example.
Learning these ‘principles’ must obviously be a time-consuming task in it self, else why would there be any need for a Time Saving Summary of David Allen’s Book on Productivity? I for one much prefer a slightly more simplistic ethic for time-management.
Although slightly off track (in a literary sense), my work and life ethic can probably be summed up in the title of a book by Janet Street-Porter – Life’s Too F***ing Short. I don’t need some self-important business ‘guru’ to explain to me how to manage my time because, at the end of the day; one man’s waste of time can actually be another man’s productive time. You see the importance of ’time’ is also relative to the individual.
Building Resilience by Wasting Time: …research suggests that engaging in some activities we assume are nonproductive—as tiny exercises—may actually be a smart way to spend time, especially at work. These practices can make people more-resourceful problem solvers, more collaborative, and less likely to give up when the going gets tough. In other words, they can make people more resilient… (Harvard Business Review)
Aside from all the clap-trap ’science’ of business, human beings are not robotic machines; try to push them too far in that direction and you will never get the best from them. It is said that, all work and no play makes jack a dull boy, the secret is to ensure that the individual can differentiate between which time is right to do either.
I’ve often found that the ‘science’ of time-management (or any other business ‘science’ for that matter) tends to be about; training people to do something they lack appropriate skills (or inclination) for in the first place.The driving force for that training being maximum productivity and profit.
So often these days, mostly due to poor selection processes, many organisations appear to have a constant battle on their hands, trying to make square pegs fit into round holes. They are unprepared to accept they may have recruited the wrong person in the first place, either by mistake or after having been duped by the applicant. It’s a common situation these days in the often less than honest quest for the higher salary. Also often, current employment laws prevents any speedy remedial action but is that such a bad thing? After all the original mistake is usually an organisational one.
You can apply all your X verses Y theories, add in a little theory Z and be an expert in Maslow’s hierachy of needs but if you can’t even select the right person for the job in the first place you’re kind of stuffed. In addition, if you don’t (can’t or won’t) empathise, understand and effectively communicate with those who you manage, you may as well pee in the wind. The application of more Scientific Management is unlikely to be the saviour you desire, in any business.
The 1st requirement of any good manager (to my mind) is first and foremost; be a human being, one that people can like, relate to and actually be inspired by. Don’t act like a bloody machine and remember, those you manage aren’t robots. They won’t respond to a constant barrage of electronically communicated instructions and unattainable targets, at least not productively. Especially when those edicts have originated from behind a “do as I say not as I do” self-important closed-door.
I’ve never seen the point in rushing headlong and lemming like towards death, no a more leisurely and methodical pace, with time to enjoy the experiences along the way is much the better option for me. Why spoil the journey for the sake of a little extra cash?
It’s time to call a halt to all this overt Taylorism which unfortunately tends to be embedded in the work ethic of so many of our organisations and their management today; much of it is almost bordering on eugenics. We all need a work-life balance where the sanity and health of the individual must come before the organisation and cash.
Signed: A Productive Time Waster!
The decision to wear a tie (or not) can be a “sartorial minefield” for politicians and the public alike; so says historian David Cannadine in his BBC article The language of ties and many would tend to agree.
I wonder if the ‘problem’ is born out of our inherent desire to ‘fit in’ which, as a consequence, also drives our perceptions of acceptability?
Considering the fact, as individuals (and as a society), we have a tendency to judge people simply by their appearance, I’ve always been one of those who is more interested in substance and functionality, rather than form or appearance, be it actual or contrived.
What someone is wearing or how they appear, rarely replicates who they are in reality or indeed, how they actually perform. My friend and social sparing partner Rab is a fine example in point however; these factors can also be used to create a false image; the image we, or our employer and/or society, are seeking to portray.
The tie is just one part of the often elaborate rouse we employ to portray an initial image. But this little strip of cloth also serves to create an almost constant “should I, shouldn’t I” dressing conundrum, even more so for those in particular roles or positions within society it would seem. The tie was once de rigueur however today, actually not wearing one can also be just as important, apparently.
To press the flesh and get yourself elected, it seems essential to dress down and appear casual, like ordinary voters, rather than be buttoned up or formal…(David Cannadine)
But the humble tie is not just another one of those shocking fashion failures of history,it’s also indicative of uniformity. Mostly due to the symbolism associated with ties, dependant upon design, wearing a tie in Britain might imply you are a humble office worker, or that you belonged to one of the closed academic or organisational worlds that form part of our establishment.
There was some justification for this view, well summed up in the phrase “the old school tie“, which was – and in some quarters still is – redolent of snobbery, elitism, connection and privilege…(David Cannadine)
The term old school tie is often used as a derogatory metaphor by the media for old-boy social networks, nepotism, and the relatively disproportionate success of former pupils of major public schools, especially in politics and business. For example, after the 2010 General Election, The Times noted that 6% of the parliamentary Conservative Party were Old Etonians, under the headline “Tories’ old school tie still rules” (source wikipedia.org).
Those with liberal views (a friend who fits this category knows who he is), along with those who hold somewhat more radical anti-establishment desires, see the tie as an aspect of enforced uniformity. The way in which it’s worn can also be used a symbol of rebellion. By refusing to wear one at all, or by wearing it in a non conformist manner, as with the youth of today where “the British school tie has gone rogue” (see here).
When free to choose, deciding whether or not you wear a tie can be difficult, it’s a choice not helped by the now common place dress down ethic. A trait designed to imply a more touchy feely and approachable type of persona. But being encouraged to ‘dress down’ for your role or by your employer doesn’t always achieve the desired result.
It has to be said that many of the advantages of a uniform or dress code (actual or perceived) are often negated by the wearer in any case. After all, so many people have the inbuilt ability to resemble a bag of shit, no matter what they wear!